(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
2016-17 Season Preview
With three returning starters and a talented cast of newcomers, coach Dave Rose and BYU men’s basketball enter the 2016-17 season with high expectations.
The Cougars will look to build on last season’s 26-11 record and run to the NIT semifinals in Madison Square Garden with the goals of competing for the West Coast Conference title and returning to the NCAA tournament. Under Rose’s direction, BYU is riding current streaks of 11-straight 20-win seasons and 11-straight trips to the postseason – including eight NCAA tournament bids.
Sophomore guard Nick Emery (Alpine, Utah) is an explosive scorer who is coming off a record-setting freshman season. In 2015-16, he set the BYU freshman records for 3-point field goals with 97 and double-figure scoring games with 32. Emery was second all-time among Cougar freshmen in points per game (16.3), field goals made (203) and steals (52). He set the freshman single-game scoring record with 37 points at San Francisco and became the first BYU freshman with 30-plus points in consecutive games when he scored 31 at Santa Clara two days later. Emery was also among the top freshmen in the country in 2015-16 as he was 13th in scoring, sixth in 3-point field goals per game and 23rd in steals per game. The WCC coaches named him to the All-WCC Second Team and the All-WCC Freshman Team.
Forward Kyle Davis (Draper, Utah), one of two seniors on the roster, started all 37 games last season and averaged 11.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He posted eight double-doubles and was first on the team in blocks and second in rebounds and field goal percentage. Davis posted season highs of 23 points, 20 rebounds, four assists and four blocks and scored in double figures 28 times.
Rose and the Cougars will receive a boost in the post with the return of Eric Mika (Alpine, Utah) from a two-year mission in Italy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a freshman in 2013-14, Mika earned All-WCC Freshman Team honors while averaging 11.8 points and 6.4 rebounds and shooting 52.7 percent from the field. Mika was a force on the offensive glass as he set the BYU single season record with 93 offensive boards.
Other returning lettermen include junior forward Corbin Kaufusi (Provo, Utah), who started 23 games and averaged 5.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 2015-16. Kaufusi will join the basketball team at the end of the football season, as he is playing on the defensive line for Kalani Sitake on the gridiron. Jamal Aytes (San Diego, California), Davin Guinn (Murrieta, California) and Braiden Shaw (Eagle High School) also return after playing limited roles in 2015-16. Aytes showed promise as a post scorer as he averaged 3.0 points and shot 53.8 percent from the field. Shaw proved to be a defense presence in the paint and Guinn demonstrated hustle and toughness throughout the season.
A pair of transfers in guards Elijah Bryant (Gwinnett, Georgia) and L.J. Rose (Houston, Texas) will make their BYU debuts in 2016-17. Bryant sat out last season at BYU due to NCAA transfer rules after playing his freshman season at Elon, where he averaged 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals. He was the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week six times, was named to the All-CAA Third Team and the CAA All-Rookie Team and was the CAA Rookie of the Year. Bryant scored a career-best 32 points at Drexel and had 25 points, six 3-pointers, six boards and six assists in a game against William & Mary.
Rose comes to BYU as a graduate transfer from Houston where he led the Cougars in assists as a sophomore and junior. During his sophomore season, Rose played in 28 and started 25 games while averaging 8.9 points and 5.5 assists. He finished that season ranked first in the American Athletic Conference and 29th in the nation in assists per game. As a junior, he played in and started 19 games and averaged 9.8 points and 5.3 assists. Rose missed all but two games last season due to injury.
The Cougars also welcome the addition of three highly touted freshmen to the roster in Yoeli Childs (South Jordan, Utah), Payton Dastrup (Mesa, Arizona) and TJ Haws (Alpine, Utah). All three were ranked in the top 100 of the their respective graduating classes by ESPN.com. As a senior, Childs was named the 5A MVP while averaging 18.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists and leading Bingham High School to the 5A Utah state title. He was a first-team all-state selection as a junior and senior and was ranked No. 53 by ESPN.com for the class of 2016.
Dastrup earned all-state honors as a junior and senior while averaging a double-double each year at Mountain View High School. He averaged 18.1 points and 10.9 rebounds as a junior and 16.5 points and 13.0 rebounds as a senior. Dastrup was ranked No. 98 by ESPN.com for the class of 2014. After graduating from high school, he served a mission in Panama.
Haws enjoyed one of the most decorated high school careers in the state of Utah as he was the 2014 Utah Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year, a four-time 5A state champion and was named first-team all-state three times while playing at Lone Peak High School. In 2013, coached by current BYU assistant Quincy Lewis, he teamed with current Cougar teammates Emery, Mika and Zach Frampton to win the MaxPreps.com National Championship. As a senior, he averaged 25.2 points, 5.2 assists and hit 95 3-pointers. Haws was ranked No. 67 in the class of 2014 by ESPN.com. He served a mission in France.
Steven Beo (Richland, Washington), Colby Leifson (Suwanee, Georgia) and Zach Frampton (Alpine, Utah) are freshmen who will add depth to the BYU guard line. Beo was a four-year starter and prolific scorer at Richland High School and earned first-team all-state honors as a junior and senior. He led the state in scoring as a junior at 27.7 points per game and as a senior averaged 26.1. Leifson prepped at North Gwinnett High School where he averaged 17 points and shot 41 percent from 3 and 93 percent from the free-throw line as a senior. He hit 93 3-pointers last season and earned All-Gwinnett County and all-region first-team honors.
Frampton, who recently returned from a mission to Chile, played at Lone Peak High School. As a senior, he averaged 11.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals while helping Lone Peak to its fourth-straight 5A state title. Frampton saved his best for last as he scored a career-high 24 points in the state title game.